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The Hour I First Believed

3.76 of 5 stars 3.76  ·  rating details  ·  40,658 ratings  ·  5,551 reviews
When high school teacher Caelum Quirk and his wife, Maureen, move to Littleton, Colorado, they both get jobs at Columbine High School. In April 1999, while Caelum is away, Maureen finds herself in the library at Columbine, cowering in a cabinet and expecting to be killed. Miraculously, she survives. But when Caelum and Maureen flee to an illusion of safety on the Quirk fam ...more
Paperback, Large Print, 1136 pages
Published November 11th 2008 by HarperLuxe (first published November 11th 2007)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jen
It truly pains me to give this book only two stars, but after struggling through it, I can't bring myself to give it more. There are definitely redeeming qualities about this novel, and ultimately I ended up getting something out of it. But it was so hard to push through, and it was such a disappointment to me after loving his previous two novels. This book is just SO all over the map, and after awhile it lost me. Bottom line, I just didn't much care about the characters. Everything ends up comi ...more
Alexa
Unbelievably good. I never thought I'd say that about a book that incorporates Columbine, prison, drug addiction, Hurricane Katrina and troubled youth but it's the truth. I had to stop and sit and think after I finished this long book. After thinking for awhile, I realized that I would always think of Caelum Quirk, the main character and narrator, as a good friend even if he doesn't actually exist.
Jeff
When an author asks you to go on a 700+ page journey, the trip should be enjoyable and/or the destination should be fulfilling. Unfortunately, I don't feel that "The Hour I First Believed" really offers either a good trip or a satisfying final destination. Rather, it is joyless, self-indulgent, and exposition-heavy. Lamb too often tells rather than shows in this book, and the telling is a little over-done. Also, the dialogue given to the teen characters and an early chapter written from the POV ...more
Mindy
The Hour I First Believed? By Wally Lamb? Yeah, I read it. Hey, I didn't say it was great or anything. In fact, it seems like Mr. Lamb was really inspired by that show. Law and Order? Yeah, you know the one where they use crappy dialog to push forward bizarre plot points and explain complex technical stuff so the audience doesn't feel dumb cause they're not lawyers? Even though real people probably wouldn't talk like that in real life? Yeah, it's kinda like that in some ways. (You know, I felt t ...more
Cameron
In the afterword to The Hour I First Believed, Wally Lamb says his long career in teaching influenced his decision to center his new book on the 1999 Columbine High School shooting, in which Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed 12 students and one teacher before taking their own lives.
“(H)aving spent half of my life in high school – four years as a student and 25 as a teacher – I could and did transport myself, psychically if not physically, to Littleton, Colorado. Could I have acted as courage
...more
Malcolm
Jan 22, 2009 Malcolm rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who aren't bored or sad enough
Recommended to Malcolm by: Amazon
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
M
For those in my book club, you will hear this in person eventually so just ignore.
Here goes ...

Why is it that in an era of 'Green' being the new Black, of ADD being the new normal, and 'fast and snippy' the new 'slow and steady,' do otherwise talented authors suddenly feel the need to knock down innocent trees and waste our time in a most achronistic fashion? With Lamb's new book, he successfully joins the ranks of Russo and Sittenfeld (and I am sure others) who follow up perfectly wonderful and
...more
Nina
Nov 19, 2008 Nina rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Kerfe, Linda
Recommended to Nina by: NY Times Book Review
Say what you will about this book; in my opinion it's a tour de force. The author covers a wide range of topics starting with the Civil War, abolitionism, the Columbine horrors, 9/11, lost souls, death, alcoholism, the power of love, and so much more that it's difficult to quantify. I'm sure this will become an Oprah book and all that jazz, but still, reading a book like this one wonders how an author can do it. The main character is a sort of sad sack who always feels something askew in his lif ...more
Asia
I picked up this book with some trepidation: first, I wasn't sure how much I wanted to read about the Columbine shootings, especially since I remember being extremely distraught upon hearing about the whole tragedy and was afraid to revisit that. Secondly, I've read Lamb's two other novels and liked one but hated the other. Well, I got about 60 pages in and decided to drop this book because long ago I'd given up my neurotic need to finish a book once I've started.

Lamb's narrator, Caelum Quirk,
...more
Jen Covey
This was not an easy book to read. For all the effort I put into it, Wally Lamb should have been standing on the last page offering me a sash, a trophy, and large sums of money. It kind of turned into a joke as every night I would tell my husband what the new plotline was. Some of the subjects were: Adultery, Columbine, PTSD, Drug Addiction, Murder, Womens prisons (In great detail), buried corpses (in greater detail) and a paper about civil war times (in RIDICULOUS detail). Not my favorite.
Denise
Nov 30, 2008 Denise rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who loves Wally Lamb
While I can understand why the reviews of this novel range from hot to cold, I loved it. I can not think of the last time I read a novel that contained so many current events and issues, all under the same cover.

I thought Lamb took a huge risk by weaving fictional characters in with the Columbine tragedy, but it worked. Not many authors could combine the two with such sensitivity. I thought his character development absolutely perfect.

I do admit that some of the thesis was a bit long and tedious
...more
Books Ring Mah Bell
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Megan
Nov 24, 2008 Megan rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of wally lamb, historical novels, and characters studies
Shelves: fiction
Wally Lamb creates characters who become real as they are revealed on the page. When thinking about the book between readings, it was like revisiting acquaintances I was getting to know intimately. There are twists and turns, history that is revealed and unraveled like the labyrinth that he alludes to in the novel.

It's a book that took ten years to write, and these pages contain those ten years. Not only is does it delve into the family history of the characters for the past century, it revisits
...more
Janet
omg, this book is terrific! Who would think that with 750 pages and you dont want it to end!
It has about 5 different story lines going on-each of them are intriguing. Found myself gasping out loud, laughing and crying. Gives you alot to think about. The Columbine story hooks you instantly, the mental illness, prescription drug dependance, family relations, all just hit home. What a great read!
Kate
As my choice of 3 stars says, I liked this book but didn't love it.

In essence, this is a book about the aftermath of violence: What do people do to thrive, or cope--or not?

There are some very powerful aspects to this book: everything from Columbine to life in a women's prison.

The first half captured me more than the second half. I think that's because the events in the first half are dramatized more than the events in the second half. By this I mean, a lot of the action in the second half isn'
...more
Betsy Sneath
Ahhh! Don't bother! Too long! Too many plots and characters, and it just drove me crazy. I like this author alot. I've heard him interviewed, and he's a cool guy, and I give him credit for trying to address the Columbine thing, but there were just way too many other stories, and I ended up feeling really unfullfilled after a very, very, long book. Where are the editors these days?
Ron Charles
A great story is buried in Wally Lamb's avalanche of a novel, The Hour I First Believed, but only the most determined readers will manage to dig it out. The author -- twice blessed by Oprah, for She's Come Undone and I Know This Much Is True -- can be a captivating storyteller, and he has built this story on one of the most shocking acts of violence in modern history. Sadly, though, his new novel becomes so burdened by diversions, delays, tangents and side plots that the whole rambling enterpris ...more
Matt
The oldest (and perhaps worst) writing advice you can get is "write what you know." If everyone did that, our bookshelves would be packed, even more than they already are, with self-indulgent memoirs about drug abuse, horrible childhoods, crappy parents, or, in my case, video games, cheap beer, and the great existential dilemma of whether to walk down to Sonic to get a chilli dog (on the one hand, it might rain, and I'll get wet; on the other hand: chilli dog).

Perhaps the better advice is to wr
...more
Dolly
Oct 20, 2012 Dolly rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of popular fiction
whoa.

I have to shake my head sometimes. I have the strangest coincidences in my reading selections and as random as I think they are, there must be some subconscious reason I choose to read them when I do. Here, for example, is the third book in a row in which Connecticut is mentioned significantly. That in of itself is startling to me; Connecticut is a small state and close to my home state of Maasachusetts. But I rarely read about it. While the main character doesn't go to prison in Connectic
...more
Susan
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Amy
Loved it! I love this author. Easiest 750+ page book I've read in a long, long, time. He keeps you interested, jumping from Columbine tragedy, to Katrina tragedy, to mental illness, etc. Lots of twists & turns; you never know what's gonna happen to the poor main character & his wife next.
Jeanette  "Astute Crabbist"
The book is not without merit, and there's no question that Wally Lamb is a gifted writer. There were parts of the story that had me riveted, and that dealt with important contemporary issues. When Lamb stays focused, the effect can be mesmerizing.

The big flaw, in my opinion, is that this is two novels blended into one. There are two distinct, well-developed, very compelling plots in the book. The mistake was in trying to combine them into one story, thus diluting and obfuscating both stories.
...more
Karla Anne
I feel like my friends and I waited forever for this release of this book, and I planned ahead to buy it on its release date. I didn’t even leave the store before I started reading it. It started out intense, dramatic and Caelum became a character I was dying to love like Delores or the Birdsey twins. However after the initial intensity of the columbine incident, the story seemed to deflate and become either over-dramatically predictable or completely just... boring as hell.

I feel like I am bet
...more
Eileen Granfors
Wally Lamb's books are unique in literature.

This one, "The Hour I First Believed," focuses on the tragedy of the Columbine shootings. Names are not changed; the killers and the victims are the real ones.

For more about this book, see my review on amazon.com under the title and my reviewer's name, EGranfors.
Ab
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nancy (Hrdcovers)
Like many of Wally Lamb's fans, I waited with great anticipation for this book to come out. I had read his two previous novels, She's Come Undone (just okay in my opinion) and I Know This Much Is True (a great read), and was wondering if this next one would put Lamb on the list as one of my admired authors. Based on I Know This Much Is True, I knew he had great potential to be added to a list that includes such esteemed authors as Pat Conroy and John Irving. Unfortunately, with this latest offer ...more
Paula
Jan 13, 2009 Paula rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like mixing reality into their novels
Recommended to Paula by: Chris at HC
Shelves: 2008-reads
This is a heavy, but gripping read. In the back of my mind I wonder how the people who were involved with Columbine will handle the inevitable media attention to the case but the novel has me hooked.
Caelum is trying to live in the aftermath - guilt because he could have said something about the two students; guilt because he wasn't in the building at the time; guilt because his wife was. And Maureen isn't coping. His life has turned 360 and he's struggling to see the future.

So far (about a third
...more
Patrice Hoffman
I am definitely on the fence with this one. I was deeply moved by the first half of the novel. The second half is what weighs more heavily on my reason for giving a 3 star rating. I actually considered giving it a 2 star rating but I didn't think that would be fair for anyone who plans on reading the book. Most 2 star ratings are associated with bad writing, a meandering synopsis, or general dislike of the book overall. I did not find this book fell into all of those categories, only some.

Caelum
...more
Dolors
I have just finished "The hour I first believed" and I am sitting in front of the computer with contradictory feelings.

As a declared fan of Lamb's former novels, I still think he is a genius in portraying the human soul. His grasp of emotional intelligence and his skill in exposing human nature and its inner ups and downs, are masterly laid out to the reader in both a crude and tender way. The same as in his previous novels, you end up knowing each character as if it was a real human being, wit
...more
B the BookAddict
Nov 25, 2013 B the BookAddict rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all readers
Recommended to B the BookAddict by: moi

This was second time round The Hour I First Believed and is no less a disquieting read for me; first read in 2008 and again nearly six years later. I think that the the blurb is detailed enough so I will forgo an outline of the story.

Lamb does what I most love in a novel; he takes real people and events and fashions a fictional story alongside these very real moments in time. The catalyst of the story is the Columbine shooting massacre of April 1999 but it also covers marriage disharmony, presc
...more
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Wally Lamb is the author of She's Come Undone, The Hour I First Believed, and I Know This Much Is True. Two were featured as selections of Oprah's Book Club. Lamb is the recipient of the Connecticut Center for the Book's Lifetime Achievement Award, the Connecticut Bar Association's Distinguished Public Service Award, the Connecticut Governor's Art Award, the Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers ...more
More about Wally Lamb...
I Know This Much Is True She's Come Undone We Are Water Wishin' and Hopin' Couldn't Keep it to Myself:  Wally Lamb and the Women of York Correctional Institution

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“Look, don't just stare at the pages," I used to tell my students. "Become the characters. Live inside the book.” 70 likes
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